2/4 Hollywood Round 2: Group Competition. Get Your Act Together Fox!

We find this part of the competition normally fairly annoying, but this year, Fox did a majorly amateur job.

The general idea of the group competition is to let the people group up to compete for a chance at getting through.  What one would think is that everyone would want to cooperate and get down the basics to get through.  But instead, it generates a bunch of bickering and infighting.  Some viewers may find it enjoyable.  We find it childish and foolish.  Whoever choreographed this show should have been sent home along with those eliminated.

emily_wynne_hughesTheir show focused on several drama queens, one of which was a she-man-boy, and doesn’t really let you see what you want to see.  We got some shocking eliminations, and we never even saw the performance that lost it for the person eliminated.  They build the contestants up in the auditions and show them as possible contenders then in the end, won’t give them their time of day when cut! For example, David Osmond was eliminated, which was a shock to the system.  But we never even got a chance to see him utter a single lyric.  Instead they focused on a group of frantic fruit bags that couldn’t seem to rehearse.

The bottom line came down to a quote from Simon though.  You forget the words, and you are gone.  So, a woman that was incredibly promising as a finalist, Emily Wynne-Hughes, got eliminated because after hours of practicing, she could not remember 30 seconds worth of lyrics.  And she is a pro!!

Bikini Girl, Katrina Darrell went home too.  She just couldn’t get out of bed.  Major prima donna, and major loser sacrificing a great chance.  But she got more camera time than most of the winners in the process.

rose_flack_hollywood75 people got through, way too many to cover in this article.  Fox did not provide the names of those that did get through, ran through only partial performances of most and spent half the time promoting the basket cases. Adam Lambert, Danny J Gokey, Jasmine Murray, Kristen McNamara, Taylor Vaifanua, Matt Breitzke, Michael Sarver, and Jamar Rogers are few of the names they named moving on to the next round. Was it a quick glimpse of  Anoop Desai we saw before the end credits? Jorge Nunez, Nick “Norman Gentle” Mitchell(!), Casey Carlson (Did she or didn’t she?!), Megan Corkrey and Jackie Tohn all made it and we didn’t hear a single line from any of them! Whatever happened to Kai Kalama, Michael Castro and Scott Macintyre?

Rose Flack is gone.  She too could not remember her 30 seconds of lyrics.

One thing you do learn is that if your group stinks, you can still get through by beating your partners.  So, in some instances, the strategy is to refuse to practice and then outperform your partners on the song.  The partners get eliminated, and you move on.  It is a risk, but it works for some.  Some pretty angry people got eliminated and realized that being stabbed in the back is part of this industry.

2/3 American Idol Makes It To Hollywood!

The early rounds of eliminations in Hollywood don’t draw the audience of the latter shows.  Perhaps it is for the same reason some fast forward through a movie to the more exciting scenes.  This part just isn’t all that thrilling.

The show also, at this juncture, misses out on why some people are eliminated and others made it through.  We see that many names make it, but we don’t see them perform.  Similarly, many are cut, and we don’t know the reason because their audition was snuffed from the television airwaves.

Nonetheless, we do get a glimpse of the real stars at times, and this week there were several that stood out as being on the path to the finals.

Lil Rounds, who is indeed rather round, is from Memphis and wowed the judges.  We thought she was a bit harsh at times, but there is no question, if she smooths out her tonality, she could be in the top 10.

Dennis Brigham of Glen Carbon Illinois looked like a Halloween character while performing, and didn’t have the vocals to be here.  He was real rude to the judges on his way out the door and back to his job in floor maintenance.  But we do give Dennis one thing, he called Simon’s wardrobe right on the money.

Nathaniel Marshall of Malone, NY was fairly good on the vocals, but was boring.  His emotional outburst was over the top and embarrassing.  We don’t think he has the talent to make the top 10, Top 36 even but he survived round one of Hollywood.

anoop_desaiAnoop Desai from Chapel Hill, NC is incredibly talented and the voice that emerges when he sings is clearly finals material.  If he makes it in the industry, though, we think he may have to change his name.  We just can’t picture people talking about going to an Anoop concert or seeing Anoop live!

Jasmine Murray of Starkville, MS was a killer in dress, form and function.  She moves on and also looks like she could well be finals bound.

Rose Flack, well, what can we say.  Rose is from Rathdrum, ID and is as different an individual as we have seen make it on the show.  Her voice is unique, but it may not be powerful enough to get to the finals.  Whether her unique tones can carry her is difficult to call, but we will see her again, because she broke through tonight.  From her recent attire, though, we are thinking Rose could be performing for two if you get our drift. (She didn’t make it in Round 2 of Hollywood week!)

Stephen Fowler of Beachwood, OH sings almost like a pro.  He has range and power in his voice, but knows how to harness it so it isn’t painful when he makes his delivery.  He is in and we could easily see him in the finals.

Jorge Nunez from Carolina, Puerto Rico can wale.  He seems a bit odd in his attire, but he could sing anyway.  Finalist?  Not sure just yet, but certainly worth watching.

Next up is someone we have not liked.  Von Smith of Greenwood, MO.  We find him just the opposite of Stephen Fowler. While Fowler controls his voice, Smith seems unable to do so.  When challenged, it is more like he is yelling at the mike.  If he can’t tone it down and take control, he won’t make it much further.

nick_mitchellNick Mitchell was back as “Norman Gentle” from Stratton, VT, or Mars, we are not sure which.  He is comical and maybe should come back on Last Comic Standing, but he survived this week.  His voice isn’t top notch though, and the talent is broad this year, so we don’t see him getting past the next round.

Jackie Tohn of Silver Lake, CA has the name to be a rock star.  She has that raspy Janis Joplin style voice and pulls it off well with a Janis performance style as well.  We shall see if she can break out of that niche when challenged and push farther.  We do like her, but we are not sure if a niche style like hers can persevere on Idol for long.

Jamar Rogers of Milwaukee, WI sang the same song as at his original audition and made it through.  We don’t see him as a finalist or going to the Top 36, but he is unique.

Our favorite in this competition to take it all is the next performer and a friend of Jamar.  Danny Gokey, also from Milwaukee sounds like he is already making professional CDs.  He is a Church Music Teacher, and he is teaching everyone at Idol music.  While he doesn’t come across as arrogant, he does have a confidence about him.  He knows he is good.  We do too.  If we had to pick a winner today, he would be it.

katrina_darrellNow it was time for the ultimate performer.  Bikini Girl!!  Katrina Darrell was fairly good.  Not outstanding, but certainly worth a pass onto the next round.  Paula and Kara seem not to like her, but we think that is all a staged act to keep things interesting.  Katrina wore more clothing today and we think she may have to go back to the bikini to stay in the competition to the Top 36.

Jeremy Michael Sarver of Jasper, TX is a big lad, and he is also a great singer.  We haven’t gotten enough of a feel for him and have not liked his choice of songs, but think he has a shot at continuing for a bit.  He was good enough to push through this night.

Jesus Valenzuela of North Highlands, CA was not as fortunate.  We thought he did as well as some others that made it, so were a bit surprised.  He wasn’t the next American Idol, but he ain’t bad, so we feel he was shortchanged.

David Osmond, of Provo, UT could have made it using a different route than Idol, but he would have been medicre.  If he makes it on Idol, he will be more famous.  We may see more talents saving themselves for a run at Idol rather than the standard route because it is more cost effective.  He will likely be a finalist. (UPDATE: We were wrong!)

Emily Wynn-Hughes of Los Angeles, CA is of a similar vein.  She has sung and performed professionally.  But this route, if she can pull it off, can make her a much bigger star than she would otherwise be.  No surprises, the pros get through to the next round and will likely be finalists unless something really really goes wrong along Hollywood week. (Something did go wrong!)

There were others like Casey Carlson who made it that we didn’t hear.  We are sorry we cannot comment on them.  But we will as soon as we hear them.

1/14 American Idol Auditions 2: Kansas City Here They Come!

It was Kansas City in tonight’s Idol. It was rather forgettable with a number of talents and twirps. There were a couple of performers that were outstanding. Casey Carlson was a gal that had an incredibly unique voice and obvious talent.

Another woman stood out- Lil Rounds sang as well as many past contestants that moved on to the finals.

Danny Gokey
Daniel J Gokey

A music teacher named Daniel “Danny” J Gokey was clearly a contender as well. If he can prove he has some diversity, he will be in the finals for sure. (View his audition below.) Update: We found an unofficial fan site for Danny Gokey this early on in the game! Is this crazy or what?!

Tonight’s talent looked pure. Last night, a rocker named Emily Wynne-Hughes was anything but new and pure. As it turns out, she is the lead singer in a band that has performed and toured and that has CDs available on Amazon.

We don’t think people like Emily belong on Idol. There has to be some line drawn between those that have raw undiscovered talent and those that are already professionals exploiting Idol to gain more exposure.

That said, in tonight’s episode nothing really stood out that would make us remember this particular set of auditions come the finals. So if you missed it, just watch out for Daniel J Gokey. We think he is a finalist.

Casey Carlson
Casey Carlson
Lil Rounds
Lil Rounds

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1/13/2009: American Idol Premiere! The Weather Isn’t All That Was Hot

We had taken a bit of a hiatus because there was nothing in reality television we have cared much for since Amazing Race finished its season. Amazing race, in our judgement, was great this year, but not as popular in the ratings. It just did not draw interest, which is a shame because it gets the adrenalin flowing.

Idol, though, is timeless. It could run forever. We will always search for that one singer that stands above the rest and drives towards a dream we all have as we crack on the high notes in the car on the way to work or in the shower.

We love Idol as it gets into the meat, but the initial shows are little more than entertainment. It reacquaints you with the judges. This year we did indeed get our fourth judge. It was obvious in this show that the intent was not to offset the other judges, but to create a kind of kinky girl girl thing behind the table. We will see how that plays out, but it was a nice change from the boring Simon/Paula nonsense.

Katrina Darrell
Katrina Darrell

The show brought on talent from Arizona. It was entertaining. One gal that not only had the pipes, but she had the thighs. Katrina Darrell came on with a bikini and wowed the judges with her body, then with her vocals. We are not sure what she will do to follow up on a bikini that barely covered her derrière. Kara DioGuardi noted that she had quite a nice one. (watch her audition below.)

There were a number of talents and fools. The usual rule was followed. If they look like a joke, they almost always are. There are occasional deviations from the rule, but in general, it follows. We are not sure if that is the intention of the show, however, in trying to find the beautiful people and discarding the not so beautiful even if they can wail. This is television.

This was just the start, and it gave us a feel for the judges, but it was nothing you have to watch just yet. The primary reason to watch the show at this juncture is to see those few people that may be standouts and the freaks that make us laugh or squirm with embarrassment.

It is also the phase in which we see that the judges are completely useless other than as color. Anyone could listen to ten seconds of the talented and put them through and can the rest. It takes no talent whatsoever. Honestly, it is perhaps the case that the judges do help later on in the season, but at this juncture they are pathetic. For one contestant they tell him he should be in a rock band and get more seasoned. Then they tell another contestant either you are born with it or you aren’t. When you think about the millions they make judging people with more talent than they ever had, it is kind of sad.

Still, they are part of the ‘greatest’ show ever on American television. So we still respect their tolerance of days of auditions for only a few million bucks each.

As a final note, as we sign off, we would like the show to add a new prop to eliminate the uncomfortable moments we consistently see at the end of auditions. As the failures are ejected, we see all kinds of pathetic begging and other awkward moments. We would love to see a trap door or stage hook incorporated. If after ten seconds or so, the performer sucks, you pull the handle, the trap door opens and they are gone. No begging, no whining, no swears or tears. Just off to the basement.

It is much too early to judge how this season is shaping up just yet. 27 performers were picked from Arizona alone and the most interesting shows will come when this has been whittled down to 10 in the entire competition. But if you like freaks and making early guesses as to who gets through to the finals, it is their time.

Emily Wynne Hughes
Emily Wynne Hughes

Our early pick for this week was Emily Wynne-Hughes of Los Angeles, CA, who brought some talented rock singing to the audition. She can rock and we think she could make it a ways, although we don’ see her becoming a finalist.

Another that caught us off guard was Arianna Afsar of San Diego CA, who we do see becoming a finalist. (Watch her audition video below) But Arianna makes us wonder. Where do all these people with teeth whiter than white come from? Are white teeth somehow correlated with American Idol and singing talent? Their choices seem a bit too perfect.

We are certain there are plenty of ugly folks with green teeth that can wail, and we are positive there are a ton of gorgeous people with pearly whites that sing worse than a donkey in heat. Somehow, Idol seems to conveniently eliminate those talents from the stage before we get to see them.

Arianna Afsar – Put Your Records On
by aiclips

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Lea Marie Golde
Katrina aka "Bikini girl"

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